Solomon Agbator

How to Deal With Frustration: 10 Tips

Generally, frustration comes in the wake of unmet goals or expectations. It could be related to something you’ve put a great deal of time and effort into, such as a promotion or learning a new skill. It could also be related to something that you assumed or expected would happen or work out in your favor.

Frustration is considered a secondary emotion of anger. Emotions tell us things about our situation, and anger typically means that action needs to be taken or something needs to be corrected. When things don’t go our way or the way that we expect, we get worked up, and when we’re worked up and have nowhere to put that energy, frustration builds and becomes repressed.

Here are ten tips for dealing with frustration in your life:

1. Get Active!
One of the most effective ways to mitigate frustration is to get active.1 Go for a run. Do yard work. Shoot hoops. Go for a swim. Do something to get your heart rate up and work out some of that energy. Not only is this healthy (unless you have a health condition that discourages exercise), but it can also get your mind off of frustration.

2. Write It Down
Write down what you’re dealing with and feeling. This is especially useful when you have no idea why you feel so worked up! Many times people find themselves experiencing emotional difficulty as a result of overlooked thoughts. It might be a build up of many seemingly inconsequential situations.

Writing down the situation and your physical and emotional experience of it can go a long way toward relieving feelings of frustration. Don’t stop at the surface, though. Process your thoughts with pen and paper.2,3

3. Talk With a Trusted Friend
Your friends can be a powerful support system, and relying on them to process with or vent to can help with frustration. Be mindful that not all friends are appropriate for this. Some people will simply agree with you and perpetuate feelings of frustration. While it’s nice to be validated, you’ll benefit more from someone who offers a unique, level-headed perspective.

4. Practice Meditation
There are many ways to meditate. Some people read religious texts, some seek to ground themselves with the earth, and others focus on their breathing. However you choose to practice, meditation has many benefits. Used as a tool to deal with stress and frustration, it allows you to re-center and avoid acting impulsively. Plus, it reduces physical symptoms of anger and frustration.4

5. Do Belly Breathing
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on the present moment and physical sensations to ground yourself to the here and now. Belly breathing is particularly helpful mindfulness practice.5

Start by getting into a relaxed, stable position, and slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on only expanding your belly to breathe in and out for the first few breaths, keeping your chest still. It may help to put one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Later, integrate breathing with your chest after your belly. Fully inhale and exhale a few times.

6. Do Something That Brings You Joy
When frustration seems too intense to address directly, a distraction can help in the short term. Do something you enjoy, such as listening to music, watching a movie or tv show, or reading a book. This can help distance you from feelings of frustration, allowing you to come back to that situation later with a more level head.

Be careful though, because constantly distracting yourself from uncontrollable or uncomfortable situations creates a habit of avoidance, which can lead to negative outcomes.

7. Pet an Animal
Petting or playing with a furry friend can often alleviate immediate feelings of frustration. Interacting with animals decreases levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lowers blood pressure.6 So, spend some time with your dog, cat, lizard, etc., or find a friend with a pet to hang out with.

8. Look for Solutions

When frustration hits, our tendency can be to fixate on the unfairness or injustice of it all. It’s easy to stay angry and upset and wallow in frustration. Try reframing the situation as a learning experience or an opportunity to solve a problem. Instead of looking at the problem and its results, look for solutions.

You may find the reason why things didn’t work out, and learn better ways to succeed in the future. You may even find a way to remedy the situation you’re dealing with now.

9. Check in on Expectations (Are They Realistic?)
Sometimes things don’t go the way you thought they should. That doesn’t mean the world is working against you; it probably means your expectations were unrealistic. Checking on what unrealistic expectations you had in the first place can be one of the best ways to deal with frustration.

Look at a situation and ask yourself, “What can I reasonably expect to happen here?” For example, if a promotion opportunity comes up at work, you may want to base your expectations on your performance over the last year, overall experience, and education.

10. Talk to a Therapist
Therapy can be extremely beneficial when dealing with frustration. It can teach you effective coping skills and help you understand some of the underlying reasons for frustration, as well as why it can have such an impact on your life.

Therapy can lead to long-term beneficial changes that reduce frustration and other hang-ups. Most people benefit from working with a therapist, even if they don’t have a mental illness, and long-term benefits outweigh short-term financial costs. This directory is an excellent resource to find the right therapist.

How Therapy Can Help Someone Who Is Feeling Frustrated
Therapy not only helps you manage and overcome frustrations, it also helps you pinpoint the underlying reasons for them. Everyone can potentially benefit from therapy because it equips them with the tools needed to cope with uncomfortable feelings and promote well-being. If you’re ready to choose a therapist, start by browsing our directory.

Final Thoughts on Dealing With Frustration
Frustration can be difficult to cope with, but there are many positive ways to handle this emotion and move forward in life. Focus on the things that allow you to level your head and address the situation rationally. Of course, talk to a professional if frustration becomes overwhelming or happens more often than you would like.

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